My voice was too feminine

        After Eric Cline’s ‘Years’

& this / like my mannerisms / directly affected how much bullying I received
I remember
being a teenager in that sportswear store with my brother / too scared
to ask the lad-looking
assistant for the Adidas cap I wanted / on the top shelf behind
the counter / I remember
begging my brother to ask for me / too self-conscious of my own
feminine voice being
heard in a hyper-masculine environment / I
wonder how many other times I felt
silenced in this way / I imagine the percentage
is quite high / like it is for times I have been
called fucking queer for holding hands
with a boyfriend / or higher / like it is
for times I have had the opportunity to hold hands
with a boyfriend and have not because
of fearing said abuse / well this is me seizing all
those missed opportunities / holding all
those boyfriends’ un-held hands / this is me
gayboybattyboydavid / holding all your hands


If our heads are in the clouds, our feet won’t touch the ground

but will dangle in the air
like schoolkids’ trainers,
laces tied together and slung
over telephone lines,
as if youth,
hoisted above us,
could grant us
some eternal heyday.

Or, like an intrepid
starling swooping,
flapping its wings
as it hovers
above a busy road,
doesn’t notice fast-
approaching vehicles.

Or, like complacency
thriving on routine,
makes a sinner
out of a daydreamer,
a kind of purgatory
we get locked in,
where we tell ourselves,
over and over,
Heaven can’t wait.


Poem for Dinner

Settle down
into your seat,
napkin over your lap,
tools at the ready,
& place poem in pot
before you.

Ladle stanza’s one by one,
as you would a hearty stew,
into your large bowl,
take time to savour
the aromas,
until you have poured
all the poem inside.

Cut punctuation into slices,
thick like crusty bread,
semicolons, commas, em dashes, periods,
& butter
them with curious eyes.

Dip into the stew. Allow
to moisten for a moment,
letting the words seep in,
but remember to remove before
they start to lose their form.

Put them, soaked-up,
in your mouth, chew
over them, taste them,
make sentences
& swallow them:
break others apart
& throw directly into
the still-boiling bowl.

Trace your tongue
over your teeth for any gnarled
that may have got stuck,
lodged between molars.

Take your spoon,
its curved depression keen,
& scoop up,
remaining contents:
& feel full
of ideas
for future dishes.


David Hanlon is from Cardiff, Wales, and currently living in Bristol, England. He has a BA in Film Studies & is training part-time as a counsellor/therapist. You can find his work online in or forthcoming with Calamus Journal, Occulum, Riggwelter Press, Dirty Paws Poetry Review, Into The Void, Impossible Archetype & The Rising Phoenix Review, among others.